Men’s Leinster Division Two/Irish Hockey Trophy
Three Rock Rovers moved up to first in men’s Leinster Division two as they took advantage of a free weekend to play two back matches, winning both to jump up from third.
Conor Empey’s hat trick of penalty corners underpinned Saturday evening’s 5-2 win over Railway Union II at Park Avenue to start the weekend.They followed up with a 3-1 win at Kilkenny College. In a controlled first half showing, they led 1-0 when Sam Grace fired home a powerful drag-flick past Omar Mahfoud’s right glove in the 18th minute.
Dylan Shirley extended the lead two minutes into the second half as Rovers attacked precisely down the right wing, working the baseline where Empey laid on for the unmarked forward to roll home from mid-circle.
The cats had their best spell thereafter with Derek O’Gorman driving the side on but they were stung from their own penalty corner. Eoin Buttanshaw charged down a drag and gathered the ball before kick-starting an attack.
Five-on-two, they worked the ball down the right before picking out James Walker at the near post to finish off a pitch-length move.
Zimbabwean Brendan du Preez burst forward from left back to get one back with a classy strike from the left edge of the D and Kilkenny had a number of other chances but did not capitalise to see Rovers extend their run to five wins in a row.
In the Irish Hockey Trophy, Clontarf and Fingal are both in the hat for the semi-final draw following resounding wins on Saturday. The Bulls cut loose in the second half of their tie in Ballycastle against Portrush, running up five goals after the break having held a slender 1-0 lead at half-time. Rob Forrest and Kevin Mullins both scored twice.
Fingal, meanwhile, produced a surprisingly one-sided 4-0 success against Kilkenny at ALSAA with Adrian Sweeney, Chris Neville, Marcus O’Brien and top scorer Shane Dempsey on the mark.
Last year’s finalists Bandon and Donegal side Raphoe also made it through to the final four, edging North Down and South Antrim respectively.
Men’s Leinster Division One
Saturday: Railway Union II 2 (P Yates, Kimolo) Three Rock Rovers II 5 (C Empey 3, J Roberts, J Walker)
Sunday: Kilkenny 1 (B Du Preez) Three Rock Rovers II 3 (S Grace, J Walker, D Shirley)
Irish Hockey Trophy, second round: Portrush 0 Clontarf 6 (R Forrest 2, K Mullins 2, T Noonan, S Beattie); Fingal 4 (A Sweeney, C Neville, M O’Brien, S Dempsey) Kilkenny 0; North Down 2 Bandon 3; Raphoe 2 South Antrim 2, Raphoe win 5-4 on penalties